Each year as Christmas approaches, mothers of sponsored children at our PINIFE site in Peru reflect on how they can make the holidays special. A few years ago, Chalice family circles decided that the best way to enjoy Christmas was to share joy and blessings with their neighbors in need.
In the surrounding community, many elders struggle to make ends meet. During Christmas, mothers took time to visit the elderly, sharing in conversation and prayer. This was eye-opening for the mothers, for even though their daily lives are difficult, they met others in as much need as them.
The mothers were moved to give the elders what they could from what little they had, and eagerly gifted food hampers they created at the end of their visits. “They returned home with that experience of feeling joy for giving, thus valuing their own family and getting closer to God who loves us and is always watching over all,” says the Sisters who oversee our PINIFE site.
So far, Chalice’s COVID-19 disaster fund has distributed nearly $613,000 to families at our sites who have been hit the hardest by the global pandemic. At our Arica site in Chile, $12,453.35 was used to help sponsored children and elders, including non-sponsored elders with chronic medical conditions who were abandoned by their families and are living alone.
In Chile, elders over the age of 75 were prohibited from going outside regularly due to the pandemic, forcing them to make quick outings to higher priced neighborhood convenience stores because they had no one to travel to nearby cheaper supermarkets for them. While elders in Chile do receive a small pension, it is barely enough to survive. Without family support, most seniors live a lonely existence, unable to afford their medications or nutritious food. According to a report by the Ministry of Social Development, the price of a basic food basket rose in October 2019, then again in January, and doubled in April 2020, making it even harder for poor elders and families to make ends meet.
Women from our Fatima site in Bolivia had the unique opportunity to strengthen their independence. Over 75 mothers of sponsored children were invited to participate in a two month cooking course organized by our site. This course, however, didn’t just cover household recipes; it featured popular recipes for Bolivian street food.
Street food is quite popular in Bolivia, and is a fast and easy way to make an income. Proper food safety, good recipes, and basic business knowledge are all required for success. With the experience gained from our site’s cooking course, women would be well prepared to run their own small businesses selling delicious food!